717 Credit Union gets new chief executive

WARREN — Gary Soukenik, chief executive of 717 Credit Union for more than four decades, will step down next month, the financial institution announced Tuesday along with the man who will inherit the role.

John Demmler, a native of Logan near Hocking Hills, will take over Nov. 1 as president / CEO. However, Soukenik plans to stay on board in an advisory capacity during a transitional period while Demmler “gets up and running” in the position, a release states.

“I have been honored to serve the members of 717 for 46 years,” Soukenik said. “I would not want to leave without knowing that our members and staff were in good hands. John will work well with the rest of our leadership team to ensure that our service to our members and our commitment to the communities we serve is second to none.”

Demmler began his career in the financial service industry nearly 25 years ago. He will return to Ohio from Austin, Texas, where he has served as the chief lending officer and senior vice president of corporate strategy at A+ Federal Credit Union, a larger financial institution than 717 with about $2.7 billion in assets.

He was selected from a national search done by a third-party to find Soukenik’s replacement. The search yielded more than 1,000 inquiries.

“Our primary goal was to continue building on the incredible success that has been Gary Soukenik’s legacy,” Paul Marshall, 717 board chairman, said in a release. “That meant conducting a nationwide search to ensure that we found someone that would support a mission and culture built on mutual respect and that would be committed to our members, our staff and the communities we serve. We found that in John Demmler.”

In addition to leading all lending initiatives at A+ Federal, Demmler was responsible for developing and executing the credit union’s strategic plan with all initiatives directed toward a mission of building stronger communities, the release states.

Demmler said, “717 is such a strong credit union with a long, proud history. I am excited to work with the staff and board of 717 to continue building on a legacy of people helping people with a focus on financial inclusion and economic development.”

During Soukenik’s time as CEO, the credit union grew from $39 million in assets to $1.6 billion. It now serves more than 110,000 members — passing the 100,000 member mark in 2021 — across six northeast Ohio counties, including Trumbull, Mahoning and Columbiana.

Also, 717 has earned a number of awards and recognitions ranking it among the largest and healthiest credit unions in the U.S., including for 2023 and 2022 being named to Forbes’ list of Best Credit Unions in Each State.

This year, 717 was one of four of Ohio’s 241 credit unions to earn the honor, given to only 3% of credit unions yearly across the country.

717, headquartered in Warren, has 13 branch locations: six in Trumbull County, four in Mahoning County, two in Portage County and one in Stark County. People who live in those counties, as well as in Columbiana and Portage counties, are eligible to become members.


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